Most residents in Calimesa get their water from South Mesa Water Co. If you’re in one of the 3,000 homes receiving water from SMWC, your water comes from the aquifers below the city of Calimesa. Some residents receive water thru a private well system. Like Rancho Calimesa Mobile Home Park. The remaining homes in Calimesa receive their water from Yucaipa Valley Water District.

SMWC shareholders and residents with private wells are unaffected by the price fluctuations from YVWD and the SGPWA for drinking water.

In 1961 voters in California approved the State Water Project. A system of canals, pumping stations, pipes etc. that deliver water from Lake Oroville. The water received thru the State system is free. The energy to pump the water is what residents are charged for.

All of the water available from Lake Oroville was divided up among the 29 wholesalers. SGPWA share is 17,300 acre feet of water per year. Each year SGPWA sells the water they receive to one of the seven retail water agencies within the SGPWA service area, Calimesa to Cabazon.

YVWD purchases from the SGPWA a few hundred acre feet of water each year for current Calimesa residents. Those orders have been fulfilled every year and are expected to continue being filled in the future as long as the state water delivery system is intact. It’s the water demands from Calimesa’s “new” development and future residents that cannot be met with current supplies.

In 2015-2016 the retail water agencies served by SGPWA pleaded with that agency to purchase additional water supplies for the new homes being built. Including Calimesa’s proposed 7,400 new homes. So, in 2017 the SGPWA found the best water deal available and purchased additional supply. Enough for as many as 5,000 homes annually.

That supply of water was rejected by YVWD and SGPWA was left to pay for that water without any help from retail agencies. Without help from retail water agencies the only way SGPWA could pay for the additional water supply was to increase our wholesale water rate. The Agency had not raised their wholesale water rate in the 10 years prior.

The increase in the wholesale water rate is passed on by retail water agencies to their customers. And that Brian, is what I have been fighting in part through the letters to the editor. New development, new homes and businesses, should be purchasing their own water supply. Taking one city’s water resource, (recycled water) and giving it to the neighboring city doesn’t increase reliability overall. It only shifts risk. One city becomes less sustainable, while the other city becomes more sustainable.

Let all new development find and purchase their own water supplies. And, if they can’t find the water, or can’t afford the water, then DON’T build. Why should current Calimesa residents have to pay higher water rates and Yucaipa residents give up their ultra pure recycled water so Calimesa’s new development can rely less on state water?

Lenny Stephenson

Dir Div 5 SGPWA

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